How to translate text using browser tools
Brian D. Peer, Scott K. Robinson, James R. Herkert
Author Affiliations +

We tested Field Sparrows (Spizella pusilla), Vesper Sparrows (Pooecetes gramineus), Lark Sparrows (Chondestes grammacus), Grasshopper Sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum), Dickcissels (Spiza americana), Eastern Meadowlarks (Sturnella magna), and Western Meadowlarks (S. neglecta) to determine whether the low level (<10%) of observed parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) on these grassland hosts is a result of egg rejection. Western Meadowlarks rejected 78% of artificial and real cowbird eggs, Eastern Meadowlarks rejected 36% of artificial cowbird eggs, and Dickcissels rejected 11% of artificial cowbird eggs. None of the other hosts regularly rejected cowbird eggs. Thus, egg rejection may account for some, but not all, of the low level of observed parasitism on grassland hosts in the Midwest. Meadowlarks were also tested with nonmimetic eggs, and the remaining hosts were tested with undersized mimetic and nonmimetic eggs when possible. All hosts, with the exception of the Field Sparrow, demonstrated some level of rejection of the nonmimetic eggs. These results suggest that some grassland hosts, which apparently have been in contact with cowbirds the longest, have evolved some form of rejection behavior that might have selected for mimetic eggs in cowbirds. The intermediate levels of rejection by both species of meadowlarks also may indicate that rejection is increasing in these populations.

Brian D. Peer, Scott K. Robinson, and James R. Herkert "EGG REJECTION BY COWBIRD HOSTS IN GRASSLANDS," The Auk 117(4), 892-901, (1 October 2000).[0892:ERBCHI]2.0.CO;2
Received: 5 April 1998; Accepted: 1 February 2000; Published: 1 October 2000
Get copyright permission
Back to Top